Starry for­ward leav­ing Jazz to join former col­lege coach with Celtics

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

BOS­TON — Gor­don Hay­ward and Brad Stevens came within a whisker of winning an NCAA cham­pi­onship to­gether at In­di­ana’s But­ler Uni­ver­sity.

Now they are re­unit­ing to try for an NBA ti­tle.

Hay­ward, the top re­main­ing free agent in this sum­mer’s class, an­nounced via an es­say on The Play­ers’ Tri­bune web­site on Tues­day that he is leav­ing the Utah Jazz af­ter seven sea­sons to sign with the Bos­ton Celtics — coached by Stevens.

“This was a life-chang­ing de­ci­sion for me and my fam­ily, and some­thing we took re­ally se­ri­ously,” Hay­ward wrote.

“And from the very start of this process, one thing stood out as im­por­tant: I knew that I wanted the fans and the or­ga­ni­za­tions to hear my de­ci­sion directly from me.

“Af­ter seven years in Utah, I have de­cided to join the Bos­ton Celtics.”

A source with knowl­edge of the ne­go­ti­a­tions said Hay­ward agreed to a four-year con­tract, the last of those years be­ing a player op­tion, with a to­tal value of around $128 mil­lion.

The source spoke to As­so­ci­ated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the deal can­not be com­pleted be­fore the league’s mora­to­rium ends on Thurs­day.

It was a de­ci­sion that Hay­ward said he ag­o­nized over, and he said he was im­pressed by the pitches — al­beit un­suc­cess­ful — that Mi­ami and Utah made for him over the last few days.

But his ties to Stevens, and the mem­o­ries of how close they were to a ti­tle, weighed very heav­ily on his mind through­out this process.

This was a lifechang­ing de­ci­sion for me and my fam­ily, and some­thing we took re­ally se­ri­ously.” Gor­don Hay­ward

But­ler went to the NCAA cham­pi­onship game in backto-back sea­sons un­der Stevens in 2010 and 2011, los­ing to Duke and Con­necti­cut.

In the 2010 game, Hay­ward’s des­per­a­tion shot to win the ti­tle from mid­court nar­rowly missed as time ex­pired and Duke won 61-59.

From there, Hay­ward went to the NBA. Not long af­ter­ward, Stevens fol­lowed. And now, they’re to­gether again.

“That un­fin­ished busi­ness

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